Ireland Vacation Strategies
July 3, 2016 5:03 PM   Subscribe

We are planning a trip to Ireland in late August and had a high-level question for the world-travelers here. Our flights are both in and out of Dublin and have accommodations for both ends of the trip in Dublin. My question is regarding the rest of the trip and how important it is to book rooms for every night of our stay.

We have a rough itinerary of our stay, making a large loop, hitting many spots on the eastern part of the country before returning to Dublin. In my younger days, I would have just picked up and gone... figuring that I'd just find a place to sleep once I got there. With family, however... I just don't know how best to approach this. We could simply book rooms (hotels/bnb/etc) for each night, but I feel we lose some flexibility if we decide that we really like a place and want to extend our stay. Thoughts? How easy/difficult will it be in late August to find rooms? If we don't pre-book, do we risk sleeping in our car or shelling out big-Euros for budget-busting hotels? (if it helps, destinations may include Westport, Cong, Adare, Kilkenny, Kenmare/Portmagee).

Thank you in advance. (Also, any *must see* destinations are welcome.)
posted by jimmereeno to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You are hitting the biggest tourist towns at high season, you absolutely need to book ahead. You likely won't end up in your car but you will end up in a very strange and spartan B&B on a cow farm 30 miles outside town.

At the absolute least book Kilkenny and Westport and probably Portmagee You should be able to cancel with some notice easily as there are people looking for rooms every night in August.
posted by fshgrl at 5:30 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Anecdata: Mrs. Lips and I were in Ireland for 2+ weeks in May. It was very rare that we passed by a BnB that had any vacancy, even in the out-of-the-way towns. If August is busier than May as fshgrl suggests, you'd probably better plan ahead - it's not so much the cancellation I'd be worried about, it's the finding a room in the first place I would be concerned with.

The thing about really liking a place is that there's so many places to like in Ireland - the longer you stay in one place the more opportunities you lose to enjoy something else. But we are both like you; back in 2010 we road tripped to the east coast and booked the next night's stay the morning that we left where we were. (Which worked out perfect when I had to extend our stay by a day in Atlanta due to a kidney stone. Ugh.) And we still booked our rooms well in advance in Ireland. Not nearly the same level of flexibility available there to 'wing it' but we stayed 3-4 days in each place and kept our daily schedule during each stay flexible based on weather, etc.

As for must see, the obvious is what I'd recommend - Ring of Kerry, Dingle, and Killarney National Park if you're staying in the southern part of the country. (drive the routes clockwise - trust me!) If animals are your thing, Fota Wildlife Park near Cork was the closest I've ever been to a cheetah, and was able to share a walking path with a roaming group of lemurs.

PM me if you need AirBnB recommendations! Have a great time!
posted by SquidLips at 6:05 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As I live in Kenmare I am partial to the Southwest and Kerry/Cork. And opinion shared by many many of the Irish when asked where they like to travel. As for reservations. In late August I would strongly recommend it. Also. Driving time is at least 1.5 longer than you would expect. If you are in Kenmare before the 24 th please drop me an email and perhaps we could meet up. I am full of unsolicited, and solicited, advice about Ireland
posted by rmhsinc at 4:54 AM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the unanimous response. Gotta go book the rest of our lodgings now!
posted by jimmereeno at 10:40 AM on July 4, 2016

To be a dissenting voice, we didn't have too much trouble booking places day-of in Ireland either of our two July/August trips in the last 5 years... certainly we couldn't afford to be too picky about our lodging and occasionally we paid a bit more or were more out-of-the-way than we were hoping but never ended up really unhappy with what we ended up with. But if the flexibility is more important to you than staying at the nicest/most convenient places, I'd think it would be doable. Having ample data on your smartphone to use the Internet on the go definitely helps! (Disclaimer: on neither of the trips did we actually stay in any of the specific places on your list.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 7:59 PM on July 5, 2016

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